In 1964 JOHN EVAN-JONES (Guitar, Keyboards, vocals) and his elder brother TREVOR "Gypsy" JONES (Bass, Vocals) moved from Canterbury to Tasmania with their parents. In Launceston they soon joined a local band, The REVELLES, which quickly met with the audience favour. After changing name in CHAOS & CO and, with a line-up completed by Graeme Pearce (Drums), John Pearce (Guitar) and Dave Randell (Bass), in 1966 the band got a hit single with "Seven Golden Daffodils/It Was You" (EMI/Columbia) and split after a possible second hit. John and Trevor then formed MICKEY FINN, but in 1969 John decided to go back to London, to promote at EMI several songs written in the last couple of years. Unlikely enough, not only were his songs left unpublished but also he was denied the possibility to sign to a different label due to EMI requiring an override royalty for him to leave his contract. So Trevor and the rest of the band, who had arrived in London full of hope, went back down under to give life to SWEATTY BETTY, with Peter Hutchinson (Guitar), Tim Joyce (Guitar) and Dave Witt (Drums), plus singers Jeff Reader and Janet Sexton, the only result of this new band was one 7" single, "Every Little Thing", recorded for Van Diemen in 1971. In the meantime John was making himself known as a session guitarist, playing for artists like Tom Jones, Arthur Brown, Rory Gallagher, Petula Clarke, Charles Aznavour, Dusty Springfield, Arthur Conley, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Charles, New Seekers, London Symphony Orchestra etc. Thanks to all the contacts and the esteem acquired with all this hard work, in 1971 Polydor approached John asking him to play for American songwriter Jake Holmes (of "Dazed and Confused" fame) during his European tour. One of the support bands on this tour was Irish band ANNO DOMINI, whose guitarist "Tiger" Taylor was having problems with the band's management. John Evan -Jones replaced him on stage first and then definitively, and later Trevor joined to complete the new line-up. Anno Domini had already recorded an album and it happened that the two Jones took Taylor's place on the English issue's cover (pressed later than the German one, which shows instead the right line-up). A second album was quickly recorded but remains still unpublished to this day and at this point Anno Domini split-up. John was approached by German label BASF, with the proposal to record a solo album. The album, "Collage", was cut at Command Studios in London, featured Australians Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer (both ex-Quartet) and the British/American JAMES KALETH. It was the standard melodic singer/songwriter affair, its highlight being the conclusive "Live In 2", where John Jones showed all his fine guitar playing ability. A second solo album "Just A Few Changes" was recorded (but not released) and no one knows its whereabouts today. The meeting with Kaleth, who had moved from Chicago to Lancashire in 1959 and had previously played for one year with White Summer and for a very short time with Crowjane (formed by three ex-Gracious members), gave birth to a new band, called JONESY.
JONESY according to John Evan-Jones
I formed Jonesy in 1971, having been asked to form a band after I'd released my first solo album. I'm not sure that my management company Bruno Music believed me when I informed them that the music that I would be writing for Jonesy would be different from the singer/songwriter songs that I'd written for my solo album. All I knew was that at the tender age of 22 I had a musical "dream". Where it would lead - I had no idea. Together with Jamie Kaleth we set about recruiting personnel.
After a few "false" starts, we finally recruited David Paull (bass) and Jim Payne (drums) and set about recording the debut Jonesy album entitled "No Alternative" in 1972. We were booked into a relatively new studio in London called Command Studios, which supposedly was "state of the art". Personally, it was the worst studio that I'd ever set foot in, as what came out of the speakers bore little resemblance to what was on tape. (It eventually improved.) As a relatively inexperienced producer, I was lucky to have an experienced and gifted engineer Andy Hendrikson (King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Rolling Stones etc) in the recording engineer's seat and together we struggled to complete the album. Heavily influenced by King Crimson, Yes and Led Zeppelin, I was reasonably satisfied with the result, although we were "pressured" by the record company to produce a single, so I wrote "Ricochet" and was horrified when it was included on the album as I understood that it was to be released as a single only. Interestingly enough, "Ricochet" was the first single in the world to be released in Quadraphonic (4 speaker sound.). The usual round of club gigs followed combined with an occasional tour but record sales were very slow. Our first "break" happened when the manager of London's premier rock venue the Marquee offered the band a residency - a rare honour. Very slowly Jonesy became an "underground" name. As was the norm during those days, the relationship between band members became "strained" and David Paull and Jim Payne were replaced by Gypsy Jones (my brother) on bass and Plug Thomas on drums. As could be expected, this change of personnel added a new dimension to the band and very soon Alan Bown joined on horns and we were ready to record our second album.
On the second album, Jamie Kaleth, quite understandably, wanted to contribute some of his songs and it was decided that he and I should write the material for the second album entitled "Keeping Up". In March 1973 we commenced recording at Escape Studios in Kent. A fairly basic and small studio, it nevertheless allowed the band to record when & how long they wanted. This was a "treat" normally reserved for "superstars" and allowed us to have a great deal of artistic freedom away from both the management and record companies.
A new engineer Tony Taverner (who later went on to work with Black Sabbath, ELP, Sex Pistols, Wham & The Jam etc) was recruited to sit in the engineer's chair. Tony had been working at Marquee studios and this was his first job as studio manager. A great character, Tony became the "sixth" member of the band for the rest of the band's recording career. Alan's influence had brought the band's direction into contact with musical influences as diverse as Miles Davis and Don Ellis and we incorporated many of these "sounds" into our musical arrangements. We also incorporated some fairly radical string arrangements, provided by Ray Russell. This time we resisted "pressure" to produce a single and as a result, "Keeping Up" contained, in my opinion, some truly remarkable work. Again the band went on "tour" and did the round of gigs in order to promote the album. This time, the band started to attract attention and "Keeping Up" was critically acclaimed.
Prior to the recording of the 3rd album, the band changed management companies and once again retreated to Escape Studios to record "Growing". As a departure from the first two albums, it was decided to bring in an outside producer and after much discussion Rupert Hine (Tina Turner, Rush, Chris De Burgh etc) was chosen to do the job. I've never spoken to Rupert about this, but I think our relationship was a little "uncomfortable" as I was "giving up" my producer's role to another producer in order that I could concentrate on my own musical contribution. I tried as best I could to "keep out of his way" and I think that he did his best to "accommodate" me. In the normal "democratic" manner of the 70´s groups, it was decided that all material would be jointly written by the band. The album was finally mixed and completed at Air Studios in London in 1973/74. The rhythm section of Gypsy and Plug had really grown and produced some phenomenal work and the contribution of session musicians Bernard Hagley (electric sax), Ken Elliot (Synthesizers) and Maurice Pert (percussion) added yet another dimension to the band's sound. The album went on to win the coveted Montreaux Diamond Award as the best rock album of 1974, with runners up being Bob Dylan (Planet Waves), Stevie Wonder (Innervisions), Chick Corea (Hymn of the seventh galaxy), King Crimson (Starless & Bible Black), and Sly & the Family Stone (Fresh). My own feelings about the album were to some extent ambivalent. I wasn't sure if I liked it or not & I wasn't sure if it was the best we could do. To the record and management company's "shame" we were never allowed to collect the coveted Montreaux Diamond Award. Who collected it and what happened to it? I guess we'll never know. Again the round of gigs, concerts and promotional activities ensued, but it was clear that things were going nowhere. The management company were more interested in promoting their "superstar" names and after a string of broken "concert tour" promises things came to a head. I was really dissatisfied with the management company however Alan Bown had a good relationship with them. This lead to inevitable tensions. I was becoming rapidly disillusioned with the process and started "distancing" myself from the from the entire thing. What happened next? The inevitable I suppose. The band split up. Looking back, the tensions of the entire situation led everybody to make decisions that in the cold light of day weren't entirely rational. Jamie, Plug and Alan went their own way and Gypsy and I another. Psychologically, it was interesting that both my brother and I were, (and still are), strong characters with strident viewpoints and since the second album appeared to be (possibly subconsciously) battling each other for either "formal" or "informal" creative control. Eventually the both of us decided to make one last album where we could creatively "harness" or "destroy" our joint creativity. This was to be a "no-holds barred", "in your face", "let's see what we've got!", (but more importantly) - "let´s make a creative statement" situation". We contacted the owners of Escape Studios and Tony Taverner the engineer and asked them to help us make the definitive Jonesy album. To their great credit - they agreed.
SUDDEN PRAYERS MAKE GOD JUMP
Session musicians David Potts (Drums), Ken Elliot (Synthesizers), and Bernard Hagley (Electric horns) were drafted into the project and recording began. From the very beginning both Gypsy and I knew that this wasn't going to be an ordinary album. The theme was based on a guy experiencing a mental breakdown and the stages of his life as he was initially was placed in a psychiatric ward in a mental hospital, (Dark Room) went through a nightmarish "chase" through his own identity (Running), and experienced every conceivable side-effect of the drugs that he'd been treated with (Bad Dreams). Eventually, many years later, he was pronounced mentally stable enough to "leave" the mental institution. What he saw was a paradigm shift in reality (The Lights have changed), followed by the realisation of his own mortality (Old Gentleman's relief) and eventually his departure for "higher ground" (Anthem). It was an extremely complicated album to make, both musically and technically as we were working on very basic equipment consisting of a 16 track recorder, an antiquated Soundcraft desk and minimal outboard processing equipment. It is to the credit of all concerned that we managed to bring to fruition, what for me at least, was to be the definitive Jonesy album. This album was the "dream" I'd visualised several years previously when I'd initially formed Jonesy. Anthem was actually written for my first solo album, and chosen for "Sudden Prayers Make God Jump" because it fitted so well as the end of it and I think subconsciously both Gypsy and myself knew that this was to be the final Jonesy album.
At the end of the album both Gypsy and I were emotionally exhausted, but now we had to "sell" the concept to a record label. We'd been in "informal" discussions with Richard Branson's Virgin Records, who'd expressed interest in our previous albums. Before they could proceed their were a couple of problems that had to be sorted out. Firstly they wanted a single. "Here we go again", we thought. We went back into the studio & decided to finally demonstrate to the world that Jonesy weren't a pop- singles band. Charlie Charles (Ian Dury's Blockheads) was brought in on drums & we proceeded to make the most outrageous version of the Beatles classic Hey Jude. Gypsy's vocals put Ozzie Osborne, Robert Plant and a plethora of other heavy rock singers to shame. Maybe we'll release it one day!
The second problem we faced was a far greater one to surmount. Legally, we were still contracted to our previous management company and they weren't prepared to release us from our contracts, even though we were convinced that they were in serious breach of them. The legal profession is a curious one in that it appears that a contract is only legally binding upon the weaker financial party. As we were clearly the weaker financial party Gypsy and I simply didn't have the funds to fight a long legal battle. Just to add the final blow to "a day in the life of Jonesy" - the studios were broken into, some extremely rare and invaluable guitars were stolen - along with the master tapes of "Sudden Prayers Make God Jump." In short, we'd just completed the definitive Jonesy album, had the master tapes stolen and were broke. There really wasn't any alternative other than to "walk away" and take session/production jobs with other artists in order to pay the rent. Game, Set and Match as they say. Jonesy finally finished their short-lived career at the end of 1974.